The Leader of the Lower School - A Tale of School Life

The Leader of the Lower School - A Tale of School Life

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Project Gutenberg's The Leader of the Lower School, by Angela Brazil This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: The Leader of the Lower School  A Tale of School Life Author: Angela Brazil Illustrator: John Campbell Release Date: May 17, 2009 [EBook #28854] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE LEADER OF THE LOWER SCHOOL ***
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Emmy and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
The Leader of the Lower School
BYANGELA BRAZIL
"Angela Brazil has proved her undoubted talent for writing a story of schoolgirls for other schoolgirls to read."--Bookman.
A Patriotic Schoolgirl. "A capital story for girls—breezy, healthy, and full of interest."—Ladies' Field.  
For the School Colours. "Angela Brazil knows what schoolgirls like to read and she gives it to them." Scottish Educational Journal.
The Madcap of the School. "A capital school story, full of incident and fun, and ending with a mystery." Spectator.
The Luckiest Girl in the School. "A thoroughly good girls' school story."—Truth.
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The Jolliest Term on Record. "A capital story for girls."—Record. The Girls of St. Cyprian's: A Tale of School Life. "St. Cyprian's is a remarkably real school, and Mildred Lancaster is a delightful girl."—Saturday Review. The Youngest Girl in the Fifth: A School Story. "A very brightly-written story of schoolgirl character."—Daily Mail. The New Girl at St. Chad's: A Story of School Life. "The story is one to attract every lassie of good taste."—Globe. For the Sake of the School. "Schoolgirls will do well to try to secure a copy of this delightful story, with which they will be charmed."—Schoolmaster. The School by the Sea. "One always looks for works of merit from the pen of Miss Angela Brazil. This book is no exception."—School Guardian. The Leader of the Lower School: A Tale of School Life. "Juniors will sympathize with the Lower School at Briarcroft, and rejoice when the new-comer wages her successful battle."—Times. A Pair of Schoolgirls: A Story of School-days. "The story is so realistic that it should appeal to all girls."—Outlook. A Fourth Form Friendship: A School Story. "No girl could fail to be interested in this book."—Educational News.
The Manor House School. "One of the best stories for girls we have seen for a long time."—Literary World.
The Nicest Girl in the School. The Third Class at Miss Kaye's: A School Story. The Fortunes of Philippa: A School Story.
LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, Ltd., 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
A SUCCESSFUL CLIMB
The Leader of the Lower School A Tale of School Life BY ANGELA BRAZIL Author of "The Youngest Girl in the Fifth" "A Pair of Schoolgirls" "The New Girl at St. Chad's"  "A Fourth Form Friendship" &c.
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN CAMPBELL
BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY
Contents
CHAP.Page I.GIPSYARRIVES9 II.THE QUEEN OF THEWAVES21 III.GIPSY MAKES ABEGINNING31 IV.A MASSMEETING44 V.A PITCHEDBATTLE55 VI.AMERICANFUDGE68 VII.GIPSY TAKES HERFLING80 VIII.DAISYFORGETS96
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IX.GIPSY GROWSANXIOUS108 X.THEMLLISSERIANOI122 XI.GIPSY TURNSCHAMPION137 XII.A SPARTANMAIDEN150 XIII.A LEADER OF THEOPPOSITION162 XIV.MGIAENRENIUOTN173 XV.A SCHOOLMYSTERY187 XVI.A FRIEND INNEED204 XVII.A TANGLEDSTORY215 XVIII.GIPSY ATLARGE226 XIX.THEUNITEDGUILDFESTIVAL241
Illustrations  Page A SUCCESSFULCLIMBFrontispiece 177 THELOWERSCHOOLFIND ALEADER50 "GIPSY GENERALLY PSERDEDNO WITH SPIRIT"118 ANINTERVIEW WITHMISSPOPPLETON188 "HE PAUSED AND PEERED ATGIPSY"230
THE LEADER OF THE LOWER SCHOOL
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CHAPTER I Gipsy Arrives ONEdank, wet, clammy afternoon at the beginning of October half a dozen of the boarders at Briarcroft Hall stood at the Juniors sitting-room window, watching the umbrellas of the day girls disappear through the side ' gate. It had been drizzling since dinner-time, and the prospect outside was not a remarkably exhilarating one. The yellow leaves of the oak tree dripped slow tears on to the flagged walk, as if weeping beforehand for their own speedy demise; the little classical statue on the fountain looked a decidedly watery goddess, the sodden flowers had trailed their heads in the soil, and a small rivulet was running down the steps of the summer house. As the last two umbrellas, after a brief and exciting struggle for precedence, passed through the portal and the gate was shut with a slam, Lennie Chapman turned to her companions and heaved a tragic[10] sigh. "Isn't it withering?" she remarked. "And just on the very afternoon when we'd made up our minds to decide the tennis championship, and secured all the courts for the Lower School. I do call it the most wretched luck! I'm a blighted blossom!" "We'll never persuade the Seniors to give us all the courts again!" wailed Fiona Campbell. "They said so emphatically that it was only to be for this once." "I believe they knew it was going to be wet!" growled Dilys Fenton. "You don't think if it cleared a little we might manage just a set before tea?" suggested Norah Bell half hopefully. "My good girl, please to look at the lawn! Do you think anyone in her senses would try to play on a swamp like that?" "It's getting too late in the year for tennis," yawned Hetty Hancock. "Don't believe we shall get another game at all. We'd better resign ourselves." "Resign ourselves to what?" asked Daisy Scatcherd. "Why, to leaving the championship till next summer, and to not going out to-day, and to sitting stuffing here and moaning our bad luck, and feeling as cross as a bear with a toothache—at least, that's how I feel: I don't know what the rest of you do!" "I should like to have gone home with the day girls," sighed Dilys Fenton.
"No, you wouldn't!" snapped Norah Bell. "You know it's jollier to be a boarder; we do have some jolly times, even if it does rain. You can't expect it always to keep fine, and as for——" "Oh, Norah, don't preach! We must have our growls—it lets off steam. I think it's the wretchedest, miserablest, detestablest, most altogether sickening afternoon that ever was—there!" "If only something would happen, just to cheer us up a little!" said Lennie Chapman, opening the window rather wider and putting her head out into the rain. "What do you want to happen?" "Why, something exciting, of course—something interesting and jolly, and out of the common, to wake us up and make things more lively." "You'll fall out of the window if you lean over like that, and that would be lively, in all conscience, if you were picked up in fragments. Come in; you're getting your hair wet." "Let me alone! I shan't! I say, what's that? There's a cab turning in at the gate; it's coming up the drive!" Five extra heads immediately poked themselves out of the window regardless of the rain, for the Juniors' sitting-room commanded an excellent view both of the carriage drive and of the front steps. "It is a cab!" murmured Dilys excitedly. It certainly was a cab, just an ordinary station four-wheeler, with a box on the top of it, bearing the initials G. L. painted in large white letters. As the vehicle came nearer they could see a girl's face inside, and—yes, she apparently caught sight of the row of heads peering out of the window, for she smiled and turned to somebody else who sat beside her. There was a grinding of wheels on the gravel, the cab drew up at the steps, the door opened, and out hopped a dark-haired damsel in a long blue coat. She gave one hurried glance at the window, smiled again and waved her hand, then vanished inside the porch, where she was instantly followed by her companion, a middle-aged gentleman, who carried a bag. The cabman began to take down the box, and the sound of the front door bell could be heard plainly—a loud and vigorous peal, forsooth—enough almost to break the wire! The six Juniors subsided into their sitting-room. Here, at least, was something happening. "Who is she?" "Where's she come from?" "Is she a new girl?" "Haven't heard of anybody new coming. Have you?" "She looks jolly." "I hope she's going to stay." "I say, let's go downstairs and ask if anyone knows anything about her," said Hetty Hancock, suiting her action to her words, and hurrying out of the room with her five schoolmates following close at her heels. But nobody knew; not even the Seniors could give the least information. Indeed, the six who had seen the newcomer from the window had the advantage, for none of the others had witnessed the arrival. The girls were consumed with curiosity. A scout, who ventured ten steps into the forbidden territory of the front hall, came back and reported that talking could be heard in the drawing-room. "A big, deep voice, like a man's, and Poppie's saying 'Yes'. I daren't stop more than a second; but somebody's there, you may be sure of that. And the box is standing in the vestibule too." "I believe she's come to stay!" said Dilys. "The cab's waiting at the door still, though," objected Norah Bell. "She may be going back in it." At tea-time Miss Poppleton's accustomed place was empty, and speculation ran high among her pupils. All kinds of wild rumours circulated round the table, but there was no means of verifying any of them, and the girls were obliged to go to preparation with their curiosity still unsatisfied. At seven o'clock, however, when the Juniors had finished their work and trooped back to their own sitting-room, they found the mystery solved. In front of the fire, warming her hands between the bars of the high fender, and looking as comfortably at home as if she owned the place, stood the stranger who had skipped so quickly out of the cab that afternoon. She was a girl who, wherever she was seen, would have attracted notice—slim and erect and trim in figure, and a decided brunette, a real "nut-brown maid", with a pale olive complexion, the brightest of soft, dark, southern eyes, and a quantity of fluffy, silky, dusky curls, tied—American fashion—with two big bows of very wide scarlet ribbon, one on the top of her head and one at the nape of her neck. She smiled as the others entered, showing an even little set of white teeth, and four roguish dimples made their appearance at the corners of her mouth. She seemed to have assumed proprietorship of the room so entirely that the Juniors stopped short in amazement, too dumbfounded for the moment to do anything but stare. The stranger stepped forward with almost an air of welcome and, dropping a mock curtsy, announced herself. "Glad to make your acquaintance!" she began. "Miss Poppleton said she'd introduce me to the school, but I guessed I'd rather introduce myself—thought I'd do the thing better than she would, somehow. I don't like stiff introductions—I'm not at all a starchy sort of person, as I dare say you can see for yourselves; and I prefer to
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make friends after my own fashion. My name's Gipsy Latimer, and I'm American and British and Colonial and Spanish all mixed up, and I've travelled half round the world, and been in seven different schools, and I was fourteen last birthday, and I arrived here this afternoon, and I'm going to stop on a while, and I just adore cricket, and I detest arithmetic in any shape, and I'm always ready for any fun that's on the go. There! I've told you all about myself," and she curtsied again. The girls laughed. There was something decidedly attractive and breezy about the newcomer. Her dark eyes danced and twinkled as she spoke, and there was an unconventional jollity in the very high-pitched tone of her voice, and an infectious merriment in her dimples. "What did you say your name was?" asked Hetty Hancock, by way of making the first advances. "That's right—fire off your questions! I've been at seven schools before this, and everybody starts with the same catechism. I'm ready to answer anything within reason, but perhaps I'd best take a seat while you're at it. No, thanks! I prefer the table—always like the highest place, you see! I've sat on the mantel-piece before now. Yes, I said my name was Gipsy—G—I—P—S—Y." "But it's not your real name, surely?" "You weren't christened that?" "Only wish I had been! No, my godfather and godmothers didn't know their business, and they went and gave me the most outlandish, sentimental, ridiculous, inappropriate name you could imagine. You might try a dozen guesses, and you'd never hit on it. Don't you want to guess? Well, I'll tell you, then—it's Azalea." "Azalea—why, I think that's rather pretty," ventured Lennie Chapman. "Pretty enough in itself, perhaps, but it doesn't suit me. Do I look like an 'Azalea' with my dark hair and eyes? They should have had more sense when they christened me. Why, an Azalea ought to be a little, pretty, silly thing, with blue eyes and pink cheeks and golden hair—all beauty, you know, and no brains, like this girl! What's your name? You're more an Azalea than I am." "I'm Barbara Kendrick!" gasped that flaxen-headed member of the Upper Third, not quite knowing whether to be flattered or offended. "There you are—not a bit like a Barbara! Nothing in the least barbarous about you. I think there ought to be a law against naming a girl till she's old enough to choose for herself. Well, as I told you, I was christened Azalea, but everybody saw from the first it didn't fit. 'She's a regular little gipsy!' Dad said; so they called me Gipsy, and Gipsy I mean to be. I made Dad tell Miss Poppleton so, and enter me Gipsy on the school books. I wasn't going to start in a new place as Azalea " . "So you've been to school before?" said Dilys Fenton. "Rather! I told you I've been to seven schools—three in America, two in New Zealand, one in Australia, and one in South Africa. This is the first English school I've tried." "Seven—and you're only fourteen! Why, you must have been to a fresh one every year!" Gipsy nodded. "You're just about right there. Never stayed more than two terms at any of them. No—they didn't expel me! I tell you, I'm an absolute miracle of good behaviour when I like. It was simply because Dad and I were always moving on, and whenever he went to a fresh place I had to go to a fresh school. You don't think I'd let him leave me in America when he was going to Australia, do you?" "Haven't you got a mother?" asked Barbara Kendrick. "Shut up, you stupid!" murmured Dilys Fenton, giving Barbara a nudge. Gipsy rolled her handkerchief into a tight ball, and unrolled it again before she replied. "I've nobody in the world but Dad," she answered, and there was just a suspicion of huskiness in her voice. "He's never gone far away from me before, but he's starting to-morrow for South Africa, and I'm to stop here till he comes back. He says it won't seem long. I hope I'm going to like it. I've only been three days in England, and you're the first English girls I've spoken to. Dad said England ought to feel like home, but it's a queer kind of home when one's all alone. Tell me what this school is like. Is Miss Poppleton nice? She gushed over me before Dad in the drawing-room, but she looks as if she could be a Tartar, all the same. I've had a little experience with schoolmistresses. I can generally take their measure in five minutes. She's got a sister, hasn't she—a Miss Edith, who showed me my bedroom? I expect I shall like her. Have I hit the mark?" The girls looked at one another and laughed. "Just about," said Fiona Campbell. "Poppie's temper varies like the barometer. One day she's at 'set fair', and calls everybody 'dear', or 'my child'; and the next she's at 'stormy', and woe betide you if you so much as drop your serviette at dinner, or happen to sneeze in the elocution class! Miss Edie's ripping! She doesn't teach much—only one or two classes. She does the housekeeping, and sees we keep our clothes tidy, and change our wet stockings, and all that sort of thing." "And how many are there of you? Remember, I've been dumped down here at a day's notice, and I know
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absolutely nothing at all about the school yet. Is it a big one?" "Twenty boarders and seventy-two day girls—that's ninety-two, and you'll make the ninety-third. There are eight Senior boarders, and they've got a sitting-room of their own, with a carpet on the floor. We, the common herd, are only provided with linoleum, as you see." "Eight from twenty leaves twelve! You're not all here." "No; two of us are practising, and the kids have half an hour with Miss Edith before they go to bed." "Shouldn't mind half an hour with Miss Edith myself. By the by, are you keen on Fudge here?" The girls stared. "I don't know what you mean," returned Hetty Hancock rather stiffly. "What is Fudge?" Gipsy threw out her arms in mock horror. "Shades of Yankee Doodle!" she exclaimed. "These benighted Britishers have actually never heard of the magic name Fudge! Why, in the States it's a word to conjure with! I've known some girls who absolutely lived for it." "You haven't told us what it is yet. Is it a game?" Gipsy laughed till she nearly collapsed off the table. A game? No; Fudge is candy—the most delicious adorable stuff you ever tasted. Get me a pan, and " some sugar, and some milk, and some butter, and I'll make some for you this instant. How you'll bless me!" "Don't I wish you could!" sighed Norah Bell. "But we're not allowed to make toffee except on the 5th of November. They let us have a pan then, and we boil it over this fire." "We'll have a pan of our own here," said Gipsy cheerily. "I'll go out and buy one to-morrow. I can't exist without Fudge." "But we aren't allowed to go out and buy things," exclaimed the girls in chorus. "Do you mean to tell me we mayn't go on the least scrap of an errand if we ask leave?" "Not if you ask ever so!" "Why, that's dreadful! I can't be boxed up like that. I'd as soon be in prison. I'm afraid you'll find me walking out on my own sometimes." "You'll get into an uncommonly big scrape if you do!" "Dad warned me I'd have to be very prim and proper in England," said Gipsy, looking serious, "but I didn't know things were as bad as that. I'll begin to wish I hadn't come here. Oh dear! we were going right through to Chicago if we hadn't been shipwrecked, and I love America." "Shipwrecked!" shrieked the girls. "Do you mean to tell us you've been in a real wreck?" "Only just come from it," replied Gipsy calmly. "A very wet, cold, unpleasant affair it was, too! Especially in only one's nightdress! Every rag of clothing I possessed went to the bottom. Dad had to rig me out again at Liverpool. That's why I've come to this school in such a hurry. Dad lost his papers, and had to go back to South Africa, and he wouldn't take me with him this time. So you see I've been sprung upon you suddenly—an unexpected blessing, you might call me." "Oh, do tell us about the wreck!" implored Hetty Hancock. "I've never in all my life met anybody who'd really and truly been shipwrecked." "All right! Come and squat by the fire. I'm tired of the table, and prefer the floor for a change. Please don't expect anything extra blood-curdling, for you won't get it, unless you'd like me to romance a little. Where do you want me to begin? All my adventures in all the places I've lived at? That's rather a big order. You'll have to be contented with a piece. Here goes!" But as Gipsy's descriptions, though graphic, were not of a remarkably lucid character, it will perhaps be well to omit her version of the story, and, for a better understanding of her independent, whimsical little self, give a brief account of her previous career in a separate chapter.
CHAPTER II The "Queen of the Waves" INTOthe fourteen years of her life Gipsy had certainly managed to compress a greater variety of experiences than falls to the share of most girls of her age. She had been a traveller from her earliest babyhood, and was familiar with three continents. Her father was a mining engineer, and in the course of his profession was
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obliged to visit many out-of-the-way spots in various corners of the globe. As Gipsy was all he had left to remind him of her dead mother, he never could bear to be parted from her for long, and he would generally contrive to put her to school at some place within tolerably easy reach of the vicinity of his mining operations. In the holidays he would sometimes take her up to camp, and Gipsy had spent long delightful weeks in the hills, or the bush, sleeping under canvas, or in a log cabin or a covered wagon, and living the life of the birds and the rabbits as regards untrammelled freedom. She had grown up a thorough little Colonial, self-dependent and resourceful, able to catch her own horse and saddle it, to ride barebacked on occasion, and to be prepared for the hundred and one accidents and emergencies of bush life. She had taken a hand at camp cookery, helped to head cattle, understood the making of "billy" tea, and could find her own way where a town-bred girl would have been hopelessly lost. The roving life had fostered her naturally enterprising disposition; she loved change and variety and adventure, and in fact was as thorough-hearted a young gipsy as any black-eyed Romany who sells brooms in the wake of a caravan. At her various schools she had of course learnt to submit to some kind of discipline, but her classmates were Colonials, accustomed to far more freedom, than is accorded to English girls, and the rules were not nearly so strict as in similar establishments at home. After a year spent in South Africa, Mr. Latimer was prepared to return to America, and, wishing to do some business in Londonen route, had booked passages for himself and Gipsy on theQueen of the Waves, a steamer bound from Durban to Southampton. Gipsy was an excellent sailor, and thoroughly enjoyed life at sea. She would cajole the captain to allow her to walk upon the bridge, or peep inside the wheelhouse; or persuade the second mate to take her to inspect the engines, or teach her flag-signalling on the upper deck: and wheedled marvellous and impossible stories of sharks and storms from the steward. The voyage had passed quickly, and until the headlands of the north coast of Spain were sighted had been quite uneventful. "Only a few days more, and we shall be in port," said Mr. Latimer, looking through his pocket telescope at the outline of Cape Finisterre. "I think we may congratulate ourselves on the splendid weather we've had the whole time. " "We mustn't boast too soon," returned Captain Smith. "There are some ugly clouds gathering, and I shouldn't be surprised if we had a rough night of it in the Bay. What would you say, Gipsy, if we had the fiddles on the table at dinner?" "Those queer racks to keep the plates from slipping about? Oh, I'd love to see them on! I've never been in a big storm. The wind may just blow, and blow, and blow to-night. The old sailor who sits on the top of the North Pole can untie all the four knots in his handkerchief if he likes." "Don't wish for too much. One knot will be quite sufficient for us if we're to get across the Bay in comfort. You'll tell a different tale by to-morrow morning, I expect." As the captain had prophesied, the dark clouds gathered quickly, and brought both a squall and a shower. The vessel was entering the Bay of Biscay, and that famous stretch of water was already beginning to justify its bad reputation. Gipsy had the satisfaction, not only of seeing the racks used at dinner, but of witnessing half the contents of her plate whirled across the table by a sudden lurch of the ship. The rolling was so violent that she could not cross the cabin without holding tightly to solid objects of furniture. "I'm afraid we're going to have a terrible tossing," said Mr. Latimer, as he bade Gipsy good night. "Mind you don't get pitched out of your bunk. We're having bad weather with a vengeance now. " "The old sailor on the North Pole has untied all four knots," said Gipsy to herself, as she lay awake listening to the blowing of the gale. It was indeed a fearful storm. The vessel was tossed about like a cork: one moment her bows would be plumped deep in the water, and her stern lifted in mid-air, with the whirling screw making a deafening noise overhead; then all would be reversed, and the timbers seemed to shiver with the effort the ship made to right herself. Gipsy found it impossible to sleep when her heels were continually being raised higher than her head, and sometimes a sudden roll would threaten to fling her even over the high wooden side of her berth. Everything in the cabin had fallen to the floor, and her boots, clothes, hairbrush, books, and indeed all her possessions were chasing one another backwards and forwards with each lurch of the vessel. The noise was terrific: the howling of the wind and the roaring of the waves were augmented by the creaking of timbers, the clanking of chains, and an occasional crashing sound that appeared to come from below, where the cargo had broken loose, and was being knocked about in the hold. For an instant there seemed to be a lull; then, as if the storm had been waiting to gather fresh fury, a tremendous sea swept down upon the ship, dashing across the decks with a roar like thunder. Gipsy hid her face in her pillow. It would pass, she supposed, as the other waves had passed, and they would steam on as before. Then all at once she sat up in her berth. The great throb, like a pulsing heart to the vessel, that had never ceased day or night since they left Durban was suddenly still. The engines had stopped working. A moment afterwards her father burst into the cabin. "Gipsy, child!" he exclaimed. "We must go on deck! Here, fling this coat round you! No, no! You can't wait to dress! We've sprung a bad leak, and the captain says we must take to the boats. Hold tight to my arm, and be a brave girl!" It was with the utmost difficulty that the pair made their way up the lurching stairs on to the deck. Here the wind was furious, and would have blown them overboard had they not clung to the railings for support. In the
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fitful gleams of moonlight Gipsy could see towering waves rise like great mountains, and fall against the ship. The sailors were already lowering the boats, and she could hear the sound of the captain's speaking-trumpet as he shouted his orders above the noise of the storm. Were they indeed to trust themselves to the mercy of that terrible sea? Gipsy watched with alarm as the first frail-looking boat was successfully launched on the seething water. "Have I time to fetch my papers?" asked Mr. Latimer, as the captain came in their direction. "No; only to save yourself and your child," was the hasty reply. "Come at once; the vessel is filling fast, and may settle even before we can get off her." When Gipsy afterwards recalled the various events of that night, she decided that the most dreadful moment of all was when, with a lifebelt fastened round her waist, she was lowered over the ship's side. Both the vessel and the lifeboat were so pitched about by the enormous waves that it was a perilous passage; for a few seconds she swung in mid-air, with only blinding foam and spray around her. Then there was a shout, she was grasped by strong hands from below, and drawn down into a place of comparative security. In another minute her father had followed her, and was seated by her side. The captain waited till all the boats were launched and he had seen the last of his crew off in safety, and he had scarcely left the deck himself and taken his place in the lifeboat before the doomed vessel heeled over, and with no further sign or warning disappeared into the depths. All night long, through the cold and darkness, the little party was tossed upon the surface of the swirling waters; but towards dawn the storm abated, and when day broke, the sea, though still running fast, was sufficiently calm to enable the sailors to make some use of their oars. They put up a signal of distress, and waited anxiously, hoping that some passing vessel might notice them, and stop to pick them up. Hour after hour went by. Cold, hungry, and drenched to the skin, Gipsy tried to be brave, and to bear patiently what she knew must be endured equally by all. The sun rose high, and shone down warmly upon them, but there was still no sign of either land or a ship. It was long past noon when one of the crew, with a jubilant shout, pointed eagerly to a tiny black streak of smoke on the horizon, which they knew must issue from the funnel of some distant steamer. With frantic energy they waved jackets and handkerchiefs, to try to attract the attention of those on board. Would they be seen, or would the ship pursue her course without noticing the small speck far away on the water? There was a minute of horrible uncertainty, then: "They've sighted us!" yelled the captain.  "They're turning her about and putting her back!" "Thank God we're saved!" exclaimed Mr. Latimer. The rest seemed like a dream to Gipsy. She could remember afterwards that she was helped by two sailors up the companion way of a tall liner, and that she saw a long row of excited passengers staring at her over the railings; then all became a blur, and when she came to herself she was lying on a couch in a strange cabin, with her father and a doctor bending over her. "She only fainted from exhaustion," she could hear the doctor saying. "We'll soon have her all right again. Ah, here comes the beef tea! A few hours of sound sleep will make all the difference. When she wakes, you'll find she's almost herself again." Five days later found Gipsy seated at breakfast with her father in the coffee-room of a Liverpool hotel, none the worse for her adventures. The liner that had picked up all the survivors of the ill-fatedQueen of the Waveshad been on her way to Liverpool, and Mr. Latimer decided to make a brief stay there, to secure new clothes for himself and Gipsy, and to gain time to make fresh plans for the future. Though he had fortunately been able to bring a certain sum of money away with him, all their other possessions had gone down with the wrecked vessel, and it was this loss which he and Gipsy were discussing as they drank their morning tea. "It was distinctly awkward to be left with nothing in the world but a nightdress that I could call my own!" laughed Gipsy. "Wasn't it funny on theAlexiaever so kind in lending me things, but they didn't? People were fit. Mrs. Hales' skirt swept the deck, and Mrs. Campbell's jacket was miles too big for me. I must have looked an elegant object when we reached the landing stage! I don't wonder you bundled me into a cab in a hurry, and drove straight off to an hotel. Yes, it's decidedly unpleasant to lose one's clothes." "If it were only clothes we'd lost, Gipsy, I shouldn't mind, but it's a far more serious affair than that. All my valuable papers are gone, child! You don't realize yet what that means. It makes such an enormous difference to my affairs that for the next few years it may entirely alter the course of my life." "What do you mean, Dad?" asked Gipsy quickly, for her father's tone was grave. "What I say. The loss of those papers will necessitate a complete change of all my plans. Instead of our going on to America, I shall be obliged to return to South Africa at once." "More voyaging! All right, Dad; I'm game for another wreck, if you are! It'll seem rather funny to go back to where we've just come from, won't it?"  Mr. Latimer was silent for a moment or two. "Gipsy!" he said at last, "I've got to break the news to you somehow. I've decided not to take you back with me to the Cape. I want to go up-country, into some rather wild places, places where you couldn't possibly come to camp. You'd be far best at school here in England." "Dad! Dad! You're never going to leave me behind!"
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"Now be sensible, Gipsy! Remember all I've lost. Your passage would be a quite unnecessary expense; schools are better, too, over here, and you'd have more advantages in the way of education than in South Africa. It can't be helped, and we must both try to make the best of it. I'll not be gone long, I promise you that. Then I'll come back to England again and fetch you. For goodness' sake don't make a scene!" Gipsy blinked hard, and with a supreme effort contrived to master herself. Her knockabout life had taught her self-control and sound common sense in many respects, and she was old enough to appreciate the expediency of the altered plans. "What school am I to go to?" she asked rather chokily.  "I spoke to Captain Smith about it, and he recommended one at a place called Greyfield. He said his niece used to be there once, and liked it. I'm going to take you to-day. We must get the 11.40 train." "So soon! Oh, Dad! couldn't we have just one more day together?" "Impossible, Gipsy! I want to catch the mail steamer for Cape Town to-morrow. This wreck has been a great disaster to us. But there!—things might have been worse, and I suppose I shall manage to pull my affairs round in course of time. It's no good crying over spilt milk, is it? When one's castle comes crashing down about one's ears, there's nothing to be done but to set one's teeth firmly, and try to build it up again." "If only I could help you, Dad! Couldn't I help the least little atom of a scrap out there?" pleaded Gipsy wistfully. "You'll help me best by stopping here in England, and making yourself as happy as you can." "All right! I'll try to be a Stoic! Only—we've never been six thousand miles apart before, and—well, it will seem queer to be left all alone in a country where I simply don't know one single soul." It was owing to the course of events just narrated that Mr. Latimer, obliged to choose a school in a hurry, had, on Captain Smith's recommendation, selected Briarcroft Hall, and, taking Gipsy to Greyfield, had arranged to leave her in Miss Poppleton's charge until such time as he could come again and fetch her. How she got on in her new surroundings, and how her independent Colonial notions contrasted with more sober English ways, it is the purpose of this story to chronicle.
CHAPTER III Gipsy makes a Beginning BRCRAIFTROHALLwas a large private school which stood on the outskirts of the town of Greyfield, close to the border of the Lake District in Cumberland. It was a big, rather old-fashioned red-brick house, built in Queen Anne style, with straight rows of windows on either side of the front door, and a substantial porch, surmounted by stone balls. Years ago it had been the seat of a county magnate; but as the town began to stretch out long, growing fingers, and rows of villas sprang up where before had been only green lanes, and an electric tramway was started for the convenience of the new suburb, the owner of Briarcroft had retreated farther afield, glad enough to escape the proximity of unwelcome neighbours, and to let the Hall to a suitable tenant. As Miss Poppleton announced in her prospectuses, the house was eminently fitted for a school: the situation was healthy, yet conveniently near to the town, the rooms were large and airy, the garden contained several tennis courts, and there was a field at the back for hockey. Visiting masters and mistresses augmented the ordinary staff of teachers, and Greyfield was well provided with good swimming baths, Oxford Extension lectures, high-class concerts, art exhibitions, and other educational privileges not always to be met with in a provincial town. On the other hand, the country was within easy reach. Ten minutes' walk led on to comparatively rural roads, and within half an hour you could find yourself beginning to climb the fells, with a long stretch of heather for a prospect, and the pure moorland air filling your lungs. Miss Poppleton, the Principal of the school, irreverently nicknamed "Poppie" by her pupils, was a double B.A., for she had taken her degree in both classics and mathematics. She was a rather small, determined little lady, with a bright complexion, sharp, short-sighted, greenish-grey eyes, which peered at the world through a pair of round rimless spectacles, but seemed nevertheless to see everything ("too much", the habitual sinners affirmed!), what the girls called "an enquiring nose", grey hair brushed back quite straight from a square, "brainy"-looking forehead, and a mouth that had a habit of pursing and unpursing itself very rapidly when its owner was at all irritated or disturbed in mind. She was a good organizer, a strict disciplinarian, and a clever teacher—everything that is admirable, in fact, in a headmistress, from the scholastic point of view; and her vigorous, intellectual, capable personality always made an excellent impression upon parents and guardians. By the girls themselves she was regarded in a less favourable light: the very qualities which gave her success as a Principal caused her to seem distant and unapproachable. Her pupils held her in wholesome awe, but never expanded in her presence; to them she was the supreme authority, the "she-who-must-be-obeyed", but not a human individual who might be met on any common ground of mutual tastes and sympathies. Miss Poppleton had a younger sister, whose name did not appear on the prospectuses, and who took a ver back seat indeed in the school. Amon intimate friends Miss Po leton was a t to allude to her as " oor
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